Planning the Final Stage, Carlingford – Copenhagen

Planning the Final Stage, Carlingford – Copenhagen

8. June 2018 Off By Søren

Doubts and insecureness sneaks up on me. I felt it first time at the boat this spring in Carlingford, standing at Greenore looking out on the Irish Sea, with the lonely Haulbowline Lighthouse at the entrance to Carlingford Lough. Can we handle sailing in the Irish sea and amongst scottish islands and peninsulas, with currents that are now significant to the safety?

Carlingford Lough

A view from Carlingford Lough out on the Irish Sea

It is silly. We have already proven we can handle the strait of Gibraltar, the Atlantic coast of Portugal up against the northerly passage winds, and even the Bay of Biscay. It is not fear, just a tiny doubt. And there is only one thing to do – get back out on the water again. On the water, the insecureness can be used actively to ensure we keep out of bad situations as it mostly results in an extra check. A few days ago, I read about the same feeling with a, here in Denmark, wellknown skipper, Emil from Havana. Maybe it is not just me that is crazy, and it is nice to see others describing this as well.

Help from the locals
Our summer vacations spend on sailing Carpe Diem home to Denmark is the climax of the year. New adventures lies ahead of us, and we are looking so much forward to this. All in all, we managed to get everything ready on the boat. The mast was stepped again with new halyards and navigation lights, the instrument panel for the engine has been replaced, and the AIS is now showing up on our Raymarine multifunctional display. Now we can see the speed and heading of other boats, and are warned in case we are on a collision course, that is, if the other boat also have AIS.

Replacing the instrument panel

Replacing the instrument panel

The instrument panel required help from a professional. One of the other berth holders in Carlingford Marina were able to help, and spend a day to exchange the panel. It was not as simple as I hoped, so I was happy to have someone knowing what he was doing.

We heard a rumor that the kind of gas canisters we have on the boat was not possible to refill in the British Islands and Ireland, so we expected to switch to a new type or system. However, with help from local berth holders, we were able to have them refilled. We bought a filled bottle from the owner of the marina, and the day after we talked to a couple (he is actually working for Grundfos here in Denmark, what a small world), who offered to swing by a place in Northern Ireland, where they could get a refill. I hope that we remember to help whoever we meet here in Denmark, as we appreciate the help we got very much.

Tidal tables, anchoring and oil rigs
Now that the boat is ready we can focus on planning the actual sailing this year. Just as last year, the trip can be split into 3 stages. Sailing from Ireland up to the Caledonian canal, where negotiating the tidal currents will be very important, through the Caledonian Canal, which involves many locks and sailing on beautiful lakes like Loch Ness, and finally the last part crossing the North Sea, which is approximately 3 days of offshore sailing.

Final stage home

Final stage home. I total around 1000 nautical miles.

We estimate to spend 1 week for the first part. The distance is not a problem, but due to tidal currents we have to plan when to sail where the tides are not causing ny problems. Using tidal information for Dover and a tidal current atlas based on HW for Dover, we can see, that we will need to sail at different times of the day than we would have preferred. This is to avoid strong current against us or to avoid being places with to much current or big waves due to current. So we will have to sail early in the morning or late in the afternoon, in the latter case also arrive late at the next marina. Another possibility is to anchor instead of late arrivals at marinas. Unfortunately we had our dinghy stolen, so we would prefer getting a new one before anchoring for the night.

At the end of the first week we need to be in Oban, which is one of the final stops before the Caledonian Cabal. This is also a good place for changing crew, No one dismbark, but Liselotte and her daughters, Luna and Frida sign on for the Caledonian Canal. From Oban there is less than a day of sailing to Fort William, where the canal begins.


We have made fender boards to protect the boat against rough sides of the locks in the Caledonian Canal.

It is not easy to get the full picture on what cruising in the Caledonian Canal is like, other than it is beautiful. There are waiting pontoons at the locks, but it doesn’t look like there are any marinas, rather pontoons at hotels etc., but can we stay at these for the night? Maybe anchoring is more common here? We are still investigating this, but at least we will get more information as we talk to other sailors when we are in the area.

Inverness is the final destination for the Caledonian Canal. Liselotte, Luna and Frida will disembark, and Tonny, who also were with us on the very first trip from La Manga to Torrevieja, will sign on for the North Sea. We have 1 day of sailing from Inverness to Petershead, the most easterly marina before crossing the North sea, but we might choose to sail directly from Inverness out on the North Sea if the weather is in our favor. We hope for westerly wind and not too big waves as they are steeper than the round and long waves on the Bay of Biscay. This is due to the North Sea being a lot more shallow than the Bay of Biscay.

I still need further studying of the North Sea passage to consider best route, oil rigs, shallow waters etc., so this is up next.

Sailing known shores
Oh yes, there is actually one more stage before we are in Copenhagen. We sail through the Limfjord, with first stop in Struer (or Thyborøn at the entrance to the Limfjord if required after the North Sea passage). We will also make a stop in Hvalpsund, where I started sailing many years ago, and where June and I sailed together for the very first time. So sailing these waters, and making a stop here, will make good sense. If we are running out of time we will be able to leave the boat somewhere and sail it the final distance to Copenhagen during a weekend. It used to be so, that sailing from Limfjorden to Copenhagen would be a long trip having to be divided into many small distances. Now, after the sailing we have done in Carpe Diem, it is a short distance which can be done in a full day or so. Funny how boundaries can be moved.

We do not yet know where the boat will be located here in Copenhagen. We are on waiting list in two marinas, but will not be able to get a berth soon enough. So we are looking for short contract berths until the winter season. We have started as close to home as possible, working our way further out, mostly south of Copenhagen. Hopefully we will soon succeed.